May 20, 2011

Dr. Funk

James Harden got style. Man got four different textures on his head (count the headband). Tell me you don't want to rub it! James Harden got game. 23 points 7 boards 4 assists last night. The Thunder are now 5-0  this postseason when he drops 17+. James Harden got silly. See below:

Harden held that pose for about eight seconds after canning a tough jumper over Jason Terry late in the third quarter. Coach Scott Brooks, impressed by the aggressive display of neck flexing and tongue extension, responded by playing him the entire fourth quarter, while across the land beard lovers rejoiced.

Basketball lovers were tickled too, because Harden's game is some kind of wonderful. Over at Yahoo's Ball Don't Lie, one piece referred to his "Paul Pierce pace", and it's true that Harden rarely turns on the jets. But whereas Paul Pierce moves like a man who just ate a gallon of ice cream, Harden's tempo comes across as controlled rather than sluggish. On the fast break, Harden is a magic act. He steams downcourt, calmly steps between two or three defenders and, voila, suddenly he's all alone laying the ball in off the glass.

Harden's other magic act has been replacing the Thunder's starting point guard as the best facilitator on the team. Compared to Westbrook, Harden feels like a purer creator, more comfortable probing and improvising, able to see possibilities that others don't. Compared to Harden, Westbrook's game looks simpler. Westbrook is a peerless athlete, and watching him leap for an offensive rebound or slam the brakes for a transition jumper is like nothing else. But his version of creating is just trying as hard as he can to score, and if the defense overcommits, finding the open man. Despite having fewer physical gifts, Harden's game feels open ended to Westbrook's multiple choice. Don't take this as Russell bashing; that multiple choice test is amazing. The point is really what a beautiful backcourt tandem these two should make. You know, if Westbrook doesn't kill somebody first.

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